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The Legion of Mary is the largest lay organization in the Roman Catholic Church. The international association is made up of practicing Catholics who serve the Church on a voluntary basis, with membership highest in South Korea, Philippines, Brazil, Argentina and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Its mission is one of outreach to Catholics and non-Catholics, encouraging them to strengthen their faith and involvement in the Church or inviting them to consider Catholicism. Founded in Dublin in 1921, the organization initially reached out to the injured and the ill in hospitals, but they were soon actively reaching out to the destitute, including Dublin prostitutes. Originally met with skepticism by Church leaders, after Pope Pius XI praised the Legion in 1931, the mistrust was quelled, and soon the organization had spread to Africa, South America, and other locations. The basis unit of the Legion of Mary is known as a Praesidium, generally based in a parish, which meets weekly. The next level up in the hierarchy is the Curia, and one Curia will supervise several Praesidia. The Comitium is in charge of an area like a medium-sized city, or part of a province, containing several Curiae, while the Regia is in charge of larger territories like a province or a state. The Senatus has authority over the Regiae in a large area, like a country or very large territory, and the Concilium is the highest level in the organization; headquartered in Dublin, the Concilium has control over all of the Legion. Membership in Ireland has been declining due to the Legion's failure to attract young people. While essentially a lay organization, each level of the Legion must have a priest serving as Spiritual director. A primary goal of the Legion is the sanctification of its members through prayer, the sacraments, and devotion to Mary and the Trinity, as well as to the whole world through the work of the organization. Membership in the Legion of Mary is open to all baptized Catholics.



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